Fox’s ‘OC’ surfs to ratings record

'Simple Life' sees second best scores to date

Fox’s “The Simple Life,” one week from its finale, again dominated its timeslot in key demo categories and helped lead-out freshman drama “The OC” to series-high ratings.

Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie’s adventures in Arkansas kicked up a strong 6.1 rating/16 share in adults 18-49 in the 8:30 half-hour and 11.75 million viewers overall, according to Nielsen, the show’s second best scores to date.

And at 9, “The OC” rang in the new year with series-high scores (4.5/11 in adults 18-49, 9.37m), winning its hour in 18-49 and dominating in persons 12-34 (5.7/17).

Fox led the night in adults 18-49 and younger demos, while NBC prevailed in adults 25-54 and total viewers.

Strong penultimate Wednesday perf by “Simple Life” sets up quite a showdown next Wednesday: The “Simple” finale at 8:30 will go up against the first regular slot showing for NBC’s “The Apprentice,” a special firstrun episode of CBS drama “CSI” and the first original episode since November for the WB’s “Smallville.”

Elsewhere on the night, NBC did well from 9 to 11 with “West Wing” (4.3/11 in 18-49, 13.28 million viewers) and “Law & Order” (6.2/16 in 18-49, 17.9m), which edged out “Simple Life” to rank as the night’s top program in 18-49.

CBS comedy “King of Queens” was very large in the 9 o’clock half-hour (4.9/12 in 18-49, 13.33m), topping all competitors — including “The OC” — in adults 18-49. It’s the show’s second best perf of the season.

At ABC, “My Wife and Kids” came out of the box strong at 8 (4.6/13 in 18-49, 11.42m), beating out Fox’s “That ’70s Show” (4.1/12 in 18-49, 8.06m).

The 10 o’clock preem of “Celebrity Mole: Yucatan” was nothing special (3.6/9 in 18-49, 7.20m), but it did build on its lethargic lead-in from spec “Life After Extreme Makeover” (3.3/8 in 18-49, 7.90m). “Mole” figures to get a lead-in boost next week from the season preem of “The Bachelorette.”

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